Jhené Aiko, Sail Out

10 Memorable Tracks from November

Justin Bieber performs live in concert as part of his 'Believe Tour' at the Jos Miguel Agrelot Coliseum Carolina 10/20/2013 © WENN

Need ten jams to spin? Here’s my list of ten of November 2013’s hottest joints!

1)  Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly, Do What U Want” (ARTPOP)

Lady Gaga seen leaving her hotel carrying a large seashell umbrella in London London 10/31/2013 © Palace Lee, PacificCoastNewsApplause” may have been a bust of sorts, but Gaga got herself together with the help of one of R&B’s most salacious presences, R. Kelly.  Playing on words, “Do What U Want” accomplishes Gaga’s love for double meanings.  If examined sexually, Gaga presents herself as, well easy.  But when examined less pervertedly, Gaga is suggesting she is more than her body and could care less how you scrutinize it, etc.

2) Bun B featuring Pimp C, Lil Boosie & Big KRIT, “Cake”  (Trill O.G.: The Epilogue)


Bun B probably isn’t most of the present generation’s ‘go to’ MC, but the veteran UGK MC is nothing short of a beast.  Here, his late, great partner Pimp C delivers a masterful hook, while Bun is joined by Lil Boosie and Mississippi underrated MC Big KRIT.  KRIT also handles the production work, which seems like the perfect match for the 42-year old Bun B. My favorite catch line, “Them thighs come with that shake / b**ch in yo mind, ho I got cake.”

3) Justin Bieber featuring R. Kelly, PYD

Justin Bieber, PYD

R. Kelly may just be R&B’s most popular commodity again as Justin Bieber taps him for arguably his best Music Mondays release to date, “PYD” (“Put You Down”).  Previously, the Biebz has been whining about heartbreak and Selena Gomez namely, but on “PYD” he wants to get… well, down. No more of the G- and PG-rated Bieber where “damn” is as far as he’ll step from his teen-pop roots… he’s ready to step it up a notch.  And if we didn’t understand his intentions, him and Kelly repeatedly iterate the acronym throughout (“P-Y-D, P-Y-D”)

4) Jhene Aiko featuring Vince Staples, Vapors”  (Sail Out – EP)

Jhené Aiko, Sail Out

From the first track “Vapors”, one knows that  Jhene Aiko’s EP Sail Out is something special.  Playing doubly as a weed-smoking joint as well as a yearning for an ex- who was good in bed, “Vapors” is both brilliant and highly representative of the newfound alternative R&B movement.  “Can you hit it again?” never sound more telling from Aiko’s cool, calm, and collected vocal perspective.

5) Celine Dion, Water And A Flame” (Loved Me Back To Life)

Celine Dion, Loved Me Back To Life

Celine Dion’s latest album has plenty of strong songs that tickled my fancy, with the Daniel Merriweather cover “Water And A Flame” amongst ‘em.  The original is little known as Merriweather isn’t a big name in the United States.  Regardless, if Merriweather never receives his deserved recognition, at least one of the greatest pop singers provides a stirring rendition here.

6) Eminem, “Rap God”, (The Marshall Mathers LP 2)

Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP2

What more is there to say, Eminem delivered the hottest rap track of the year this side of Kanye West’s “Blood On the Leaves” and Kendrick Lamar’s epic rap verse on Big Sean’s “Control”.  If I’d been Big Sean, I would’ve fought to have gotten “Control” on Hall of Fame, even if it meant delaying it (it’s sold abysmally anyways).  But this is Eminem’s moment and quite an electrifying moment it is indeed.

7)  Jake Miller, “Homeless” (Us Against Them)

Jake Miller, Us Against Them

Homeless” is among the cream of the crop from Jake Miller’s debut album Us Against Them.  Vocally, Miller sounds solid as he sings plaintively on the chorus: “Here I stand in the cold / I try to knock as you change the locks / now I’m all alone / where am I supposed to go / if you are where my home is, I guess that makes me homeless.”  The serious vibe of the sung vocals is matched by Miller’s more agile, rhythmic rapped vocals. While  it’s a ‘bummer’ as far as its overall tone, it is at least a standout ‘bummer’.

8) Mariah Carey, “The Art of Letting Go” 

Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse

Mimi’s latest single, “The Art of Letting Go”, finds one of R&B’s preeminent divas doing what she does best, BALLADS.  Whether she’s singing in her lower register or ascending to her upper register with every bit of her emotion, Carey compels the listener and makes us think of our own moments when we’ve struggled to let go.  “The Art of Letting Go” is filled with exceptional, memorable, and prudent lyrical moments including “Evidently your words were merely lies / reverberating in my ears / and the echo won’t subside / there’s a deep deep loss of hope…” from verse two.  The bridge confirms that “Baby letting go, baby letting go / ain’t easy…”

9) Jake Bugg, “A Song About Love” (Shangri La)

Jake Bugg, Shangri La

Recently I reviewed Jake Bugg’s sophomore effort, Shangri La.  While I had mixed feelings, I certainly had rave reviews for one particular standout in “A Song About Love”:

“Is that all you wanted? Songs about love? / Is that want you hoped you would find / when it’s burning inside / but a song about love’s not enough.” Poetic by all means, “A Song About Love” seems to be the most complete performance of the album.  The metric shifting “A Song About Love” certainly offers the incredible nuance and an overall unique selection  Where many of Bugg’s songs seem quite simple, “A Song About Love” definitely steps up the game.

10) Lady Gaga, Dope” (ARTPOP)

Lady Gaga, ARTPOP

Another Lady Gaga track really? Yep.  “Dope” is completely different from “Do What U Want”.  Sure, it sounds as if it shouldn’t be a substantive track, but Gaga’s intents are quite notable, more so than some of ARTPOP’s ‘looser’ cuts. On the sole ballad from the album, Gaga opens herself up to vulnerability, suggesting that despite her past screw-ups with substances, she needs her man “more than dope”.  Sure she’s literal and dope doesn’t lend itself to the greatest heart-warming moment ever, but her personalized touch truly shines here.

Review: Jake Bugg, ‘Shangri La’


Bugg’s second album has its moments, less thrilling than his debut… 

Jake Bugg⎪ Shangri La⎪ Island ⎪⎪US Release Date: November 19, 2013

JakeBugg14-20130807-101After his self-titled debut album appeared in the U.S. In 2012, Jake Bugg drew rave reviews as a the modern day Bob Dylan almost instantly.  Sporting an acoustically-driven sound with his distinct, if raw, unpolished voice, the 19-year old Bugg seems like the ideal continuation of the Dylan lineage (no disrespect to you Jakob Dylan). That said and all things considered, the Bob Dylan comparisons are a wee bit overhyped as is the notion of Bugg being some sort of ‘savior’ of rock music in its most traditional form.  Bugg has plenty to offer, as he shows on Shangri La, but he also has plenty of room for improvement.  Shangri La has its moments, but it also has its flaws.

Among the best moments of Shangri La are tracks i “Slumville Sunrise”, single “What Doesn’t Kill You”, “A Song About Love”, and “Kingpin”.  “Slumville Sunrise” reminds me of sort of a poor man’s “Two Fingers”; it is similar in conception, though by now means a supersession.  “Slumville Sunrise” finds Bugg reflecting upon his life and the place he comes from (“My face upon the concrete, the dirt is in my mouth / I clench my fist and feet, I try to cry out loud…”). “What Doesn’t Kill You” is saddening but truthful, particularly upon its verses where Bugg references a friend (verse one) and a ‘flame’ (verse two) in which he “couldn’t face the world without her eyes…”.  Through the pain, Bugg shows the utmost prudence on the chorus: “What doesn’t kill you / what doesn’t hurt / sometimes you feel you’re up against the world… this life it seems / to bring you to your knees / you try you bleed then finally you breathe.”

JakeBugg8-20130807-112“Is that all you wanted? Songs about love? / Is that want you hoped you would find / when it’s burning inside / but a song about love’s not enough.” Poetic by all means, “A Song About Love” seems to be the most complete performance of the album.  The metric shifting “A Song About Love” certainly offers the incredible nuance and an overall unique selection  Where many of Bugg’s songs seem quite simple, “A Song About Love” definitely steps up the game.  Throw in a brief, but rocking joint like “Kingpin”, and Bugg is able to lose some of his seriousness, which is a pro.  Still, I wouldn’t call being a kingpin synonymous with ‘fun’, LOL.

Shangri La also has its less satisfying moments.  While opener “There’s A Beast And We All Feed It” sounds true to its bold title, it also seems a bit rough around the edges.  Perhaps it’s more aimed as an ‘interlude’ or ‘intro’, but it could stand a bit more polish.  A track like “All Your Reasons” isn’t ‘bad’ by any means, but clocking in at over five minutes is a bit of a stretch, particularly given the fact Bugg’s voice is an JakeBugg4-20130807-120‘acquired taste’ of sorts.  Another longer number “Kitchen Table” is more accessible, but still the prolonged length doesn’t lend itself as well as say a classic Dylan track might.  Other tracks are ‘good’ or average without being stellar or memorable.  The lack of another “Lightening Bolt” or “Two Fingers” certainly takes away from this effort.

Ultimately, Bugg’s second recording foray seems less thrilling compared to his debut.  Yes the sound palette has increased, but that doesn’t ensure a ‘hit’ in the least. Shangri La overall is less memorable, even if Bugg basically picks up where he left off the first time.  For me, my question for Bugg is has he reached his ceiling or does he have room to grow?  I’m not sure that Shangri La clarifies an answer to this completely; it may confound even more.  Still, the effort has its moments.


“Slumville Sunrise” ; “What Doesn’t Kill You”; “A Song About Love”; “Kingpin”


Verdict: ✰✰✰